Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Work-Life Balance: What do Women Executives put on the "back-burner"?

During an important session on defining the leadership context for women -- it came to pass that most of the senior women executives fully recognize that they have put some aspect of their life on the “back-burner” in their pursuit of careers in the office and managing the home “at the same time.” Some continue to nourish a “sense of regret” – while others are hopeful that they will return to it sometime in life, when all other responsibilities are completed.

One wonders if companies and fellow colleagues understand this aspect of the women’s sensibilities, when they work with them and share the same office-space for several years. And, if recognizing and understanding this more deeply will help the management create an eco-system for providing women space to grow, retain, and contribute more effectively to the organization.

Topping some of the things that women in corporate India have put on the “back-burner” are the following – which may come as a surprise to many of us:

· Planning a late- first-child, and no time for “second” child and extending the family
· Gave-up main-track career, in order to be at the same location as the husband during transfers
· Household chores and cooking -- due to lack of time
· Socializing with peers and the community
· Declining global work opportunities –in order to hold the “home” together
· Passion for Classical Music/badminton and other cultural pursuits, for family responsibilities
· Put my “husband” on the back burner! —this response comes from a women who is well-married and has 2 excellent grown-up children
· Personal fitness, sufficient sleep
· Put children in the hostel
· Gave up plans for advanced studies

Just putting these aspirations of the women executives in corporate India “on record” – reminds us of the “deep personal price” that women continue to pay to keep their companies and homes together.

How will society measure this goodwill and nurturing effort ? There is still time for us to reflect on this as partner human-beings.

Poonam Barua
Founder Convener
Forum for Women in Leadership

1 comment:

  1. The key to determining what to give up is to determine what gives you energy and what takes it away. We should all do the things that energize us and delegate those that don't. That means not only activities but people we spend time with as well. We need to keep making deposits in the energy bank-account because in our busy worka day world there will be major withdrawls and we don't want to go bankrupt!